Chapter 184: Chapter 184
Looking at Eun Jiho’s oddly landscaped garden, I couldn’t think that his father would put such a delicate effort into Eun Jiho’s education. The overall look of the garden looked as if someone from above stretched out his gigantic hand from the sky and stirred up everything.
Still, it was such a magnificent sight. While I felt the need to watch the outside view and wandered around the window, Eun Jiho called me from aside.
“Let’s take a look at the garden later.”
“Dude, you should say that once you recover…”
With that said, I stretched out my hand to press Eun Jiho’s sweaty forehead. He then exaggerated his pain while saying, ‘Oh, you’re killing the patient.’ When our eyes met, he furtively avoided my gaze.
Sitting on the chair across him, I wriggled my hand and thought, ‘What does the conversation that took place just now, mean?’ Eun Jiho might be thinking about the same thing that I had in mind. He might be wondering about how he could explain the overall conversation to me.
Of course, I didn’t need to hear his explanation, and neither was Eun Jiho. There was no need for him to explain such a thing to me. Both of us were very conscious of it, so the oppressive atmosphere arose from the fact that none of us were in a precise position.
I, eventually, heaved a sigh shortly and broke the ice.
“You know, I don’t need to know about what happened earlier…”
“It was just bad timing for me to hear those things.”
Eun Jiho’s words quietly resonated in the car with a sigh. By then, our bodies tilted to the side with the car’s movement, for the driver turned around the corner. My gaze was still, fixed at Eun Jiho’s jet-black eyes in the meantime.
His coal-black eyes under his sweaty forehead with bright platinum blond hair were precisely directed on me. He then spoke while having an outlandish smile on his face.
“No, I’ll tell you.”
“Huh? No, you don’t need to.”
Waving my hand in the air, I tried to say those words; however, as he continued his remark, I became at a loss of words.
“If I don’t say anything, then can you get your mind out of the gutter?”
“Rather than leaving you with iffy thoughts, I’d just be straightforward instead.”
Hmm… thinking about what he just said, I dropped my hand quietly. Eun Jiho chuckled as if he knew that I would eventually react this way. He then kept on his words.
“Since Woo Jooin calls you mama anyway, he’ll soon tell you about this, I’m sure.”
‘Maybe, it’s about time…’ as he added that sentence in a murmur, Eun Jiho raised himself from his seat, and at the same time, the door opened. The dazzling summer sun rays appeared through the open door.
When the bright sunshine disappeared, a scenery of a vast mansion that I’ve once seen but still felt unfamiliar with, came into my sight.
It was such a well-lit house with a glass window that stretched from the floor to the ceiling on one side. I could clearly see the red-couched, zebra-patterned, star-shaped, tiled floor that had some fish swimming underneath as if the bottom was an aquarium. The grand piano under the spiral stairways and the excessively white walls…
When we stepped inside the house, Eun Jiho gestured the three to four employees coming toward us to move back. His actions looked so natural that I stared at him in awe, thinking, ‘Eun Jiho is surely the heir of this family.’ He then took a nonchalant step and went upstairs.
Eun Jiho’s room was inside a small, narrow door right beside the big, tall door that led directly to the study from the stairs. Inside this mansion, where everything was either white or red, Eun Jiho’s small door with wooden strokes was such a disparate thing. When he opened the door and went in, I followed afterward.
His room, which I had never seen for a year, differed a little than before. The large painting was still on his wall, as well as the enormous audio equipment at the corner. Most of the books that were crammed into the shelves were all in English and had titles that I could hardly read. I mumbled in a pale face.
“Those are always…”
If those books filled my room, I wouldn’t want to live there.
When I asked him before if he could read those for real, Eun Jiho looked a little concerned but soon shook his head to say no. We then had a conversation on our way out of my house.
‘He’d read them.’
It was Ban Yeo Ryung who said that apathetically.
‘You think so too, huh?’
Eun Hyung then replied.
Yoo Chun Young spoke determinedly in confidence.
‘Yup, it’s true.”
It was Woo Jooin who put our questions to rest. We then turned our head to look at him. When Jooin received our attention, he shrugged and continued his words with a swiveling grin.
‘Because I saw him reading them.’
Jooin’s smiling face shone clearly under the light of the streetlamp on an autumn night as if someone painted an orange oil color on a navy canvas. Recalling the memory, I opened my mouth a little. The woman, whom Eun Jiho scowled silently yet ferociously at the same time, had a smile that resembled someone; I realized who it was.
‘She’s a dead ringer for her kid, Jooin.’
It felt like I got smashed on the back of my head. How could the woman, whom Eun Jiho detested, look almost the same as none other than Jooin?
But… still… I tried to keep up with my thoughts. I couldn’t find any sweetness from the way she spoke the words, ‘my Jooin,’ through her lips. What Eun Jiho pointed out to her was also that part.
‘Oh, that Jooin, whom you chatter only when you need him, huh?’
The unspeakable contempt, rage, and hatred that I sensed within his remark…
I raised my head. Closing the door halfway, Eun Jiho covered his mouth with his wrist again and coughed out loud. He then bent his steps totteringly and climbed into his bed. He glanced around to check a place where I could sit, so I perched on the edge of his bed with a thud.
A moment of silence went by while we looked at each other. After quite a while, Eun Jiho opened his mouth.
“So, where should I start… Khoff… Ah, although I had a clear mind, I wouldn’t be sure what to say first. I’m too sick to even try right now. Khoff, khoff!”
“Where to start… How old is the story?”
Asking hesitantly, I lifted my head unconsciously. Under the highly-angled, tilted ceiling, there was a window on a slant that leaked a stream of light. Watching it from a distance, I heard his voice coming out in front of me, so I put down my head back.
Coughing constantly, Eun Jiho, however, continued his remark, taking his time.
“The lady out there earlier… is Woo Jooin’s mother.”
I opened my eyes wide in surprise.
‘How could that freaky lady be his mother?’ I spoke to myself again. In spite of his pain, Eun Jiho looked as if he managed to understand that little whisper I made. He nodded and coughed noisily again.
After quite a while, the room was enveloped with a heavy silence. The sunlight that was pouring through the window began to lean toward the side.
How could Eun Jiho behave like that in front of Woo Jooin’s mother? I couldn’t understand. I meant, but… I frowned my brows.
As what I heard from Jooin and Eun Jiho, Jooin was seven when he moved from the house beside Eun Jiho’s into a different neighborhood.
The place, which took over an hour by subway, was far away from where he lived; therefore, there was no reason for Jooin’s mother to wander around this area and ask Eun Jiho about Jooin’s trace.
Eun Jiho, who seemed to be checking the grim look on my face for the whole time, opened his mouth again.
“She’s not his birth mother. Woo Jooin lost his real mother in an accident when he was one year old.”
My jaw dropped quietly, but I closed it back. I grasped my hand placed on the bed.
Woo Jooin called some people, ‘mama’ rather than using other names. I just regarded it as a prank. Since we play a game once wherein we would pretend to be a family and call those who are good listeners as a ‘grandma’ Jooin’s case was considered to be a similar thing.
Above all, I felt warmhearted and intimate from the way he called me ‘mama’ and the word itself, so I might have been feeling happy whatsoever.
Therefore, I just went with the flow by an oversight; however, I never knew his real mother passed away.